Filipino frontliners, working in a ‘war zone,’ pledge to keep fighting COVID-19

BROOKLYN, NY — For frontliners in New York City and New Jersey, treating patients with COVID-19 is like entering a “war zone.”

In New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. — there are over 60,000 confirmed cases, and more than a thousand deaths as of Monday.

“It’s been tough, with working with limited medical supplies, working with a limited medical space to hold so many patients as well as limited personal protective equipment or protective personal equipment because we’re at high risk as well,” said Dr. Arabia Mollette, an emergency Medicine Physician in Brooklyn.

In New Jersey, frontliners have had to resort to desperate measures — like primary care physician Dr. Alexander Salerno, who spent $17,000 buying much needed medical equipment off the black market.

It it would only normally cost around $2500 – a 700% markup.

At the same time, he’s also had to reuse protective gear, or PPE’s, meant for one-time use only.

“We are making gowns last an entire day and we’re making masks last hopefully five days (before we bring a new mask in,” said Salerno. “We throw into our dryer under high heat, you know, because that would kill the spores if, God forbid, there were any.”

Advance practice nurse Janine Duran Llamzon is leading the charge among frontliners at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“It hasn’t been easy for all of us, new jersey has been badly hit, so as our hospital, a lot of patients with respiratory symptoms.”

As of Monday in New Jersey, there are close to 13,400 COVID-19 cases and more than 160 deaths.

For Filipino frontliners — despite many challenges in battling this pandemic, they are in this for the long haul.

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